8 of Santorini's best beaches to explore in 2024

Few are not awed by Santorini’s breathtaking beauty, its ring of dramatically colored cliffs around the vast, ancient caldera. But looks aside, it’s the beaches that fill your days, and rightfully so. Whether you want to party, relax, sunbathe, swim, enjoy a seaside meal, escape into solitude or simply shed your clothes, the island has a beach for you.

All are volcanic mixes of coarse sand and pebbles, ranging from burnt brown to deep charcoal. The east and south coasts have the sandiest beaches, along with sheltered waters good for swimming. Here are the very best beaches in Santorini.

1. Red Beach

Otherwise known as Kokkini Beach, popular Red Beach stars in countless Instagram posts thanks to its eponymous red cliffs that loom over the brownish sand. Sheltered from the winds, it’s an easy (albeit crowded) place to while away an entire day. A couple of beachside tavernas rent loungers. The beach is particularly worth visiting in the late afternoon when the sun casts a warm glow over the sand.

How to get there: There is a small parking area with a bus stop above Red Beach but be prepared for a slightly perilous walk down. A better bet is a quick boat trip from nearby Akrotiri Beach, which is known for its ruins.

A series of sun loungers under palm-tree umbrellas on a beach with dark sand
Rent a lounger or try out water sports at Kamari Beach © John_Walker / Getty Images

2. Kamari

Santorini’s main resort town of Kamari has a long stretch of brown sand and clear, calm water that says “jump in!” Food, drink and music are never far as the sands are lined with cafes, bars and clubs. It gets busy in summer but renting a lounger for the day is easy if you arrive early and you can try a variety of water sports, many of which are geared to families. If you want to enjoy some diving excursions, try Navy’s Waterworld Dive Centre, a PADI-certified operator offering a range of underwater adventures exploring lava caves and beyond.

How to get there: Kamari is easily reached by frequent buses or by car from Fira and it’s a hub for small boats (caïques) offering quick and cheap trips to more isolated beaches. 

A shot taken out at sea looking towards some white chalk cliffs with a small beach at the foot of them
White Beach is best reached by boat © Mathilde Receveur / Getty Images

3. White Beach

An ideal escape from popular Red Beach, White (Aspri) Beach is a sheltered cove a few hundred meters further west along the south coast. Lest you start entertaining fantasies of a cliched white-sand idyl, the name here doesn’t describe the sand, which is volcanic and dark, but rather the gleaming cliffs backing the cove. Only a vendor or two offer refreshments (and loungers), so bring what you’ll need for one of the better escapes in the dog days of August.

How to get there: It’s best reached by small boat from Red or Akrotiri Beaches.

The moon like landscape of Mesa Pigadia Beach on the southern side on Santorin
The lunar-like landscape of Mesa Pigadia a.k.a Black Beach © Getty Images/iStockphoto

4. Black Beach

Located close to the White and Red beaches, Mesa Pigadia is sometimes referred to as Black Beach. It’s less crowded than the other two and is well-serviced, with sun loungers and parasols for hire. There are also a smattering of taverns and photo-worthy villas built into the rock formations. The clear water here, teeming with marine life and sheltered from the northern winds, is perfect for snorkeling and diving.

How to get there: It can be reached by a small boat from Akrotiri beach or via bus on the Fira to Akrotiri bus route.

A cove where the red rocky shore meets bright and clear turquoise waters.
Take in the views of the caldera from Armeni Beach, below the village of Oia © KavalenkavaVolha / Getty Images

5. Armeni Beach

Often overlooked, this small beach is right below the village of Oia at the north end of the island. It has some of the best views from a beach across Santorini’s caldera. The “sand” is rocky and pebbly so footwear is necessary, but you’ll likely find the mellow vibe as well as the refreshments from the waterfront tavernas to be intoxicating. The water here is about the clearest on the island – the rocks along the at-times treacherous shoreline (especially to the west at Ammoudi) are perfect for taking a plunge into the sea.

How to get there: You can navigate the 980ft (300m) walk down to the shore from the Oia bus stop or drive the small dirt track.

Bexedes beach with a handful of sun loungers on a sunny day
Baxedes is where you go to escape the crowds © SerbianOnTheRoad / Shutterstock

6. Baxedes Beach

Facing the open water on the north end of Santorini, Baxedes Beach is another quiet option for the busy summer months. Backed by steep cliffs which provide some afternoon shade in spots, it’s a mix of dark rocks, pebbles and coarse sand, which are often pounded by sizable waves. It’s not a place for a family outing, rather it’s a place to shed crowds and clothes. To the east is Baxedes’s near-twin, Paradisos Beach. Services at both are few beyond a couple simple tavernas, so bring what you need.

How to get there: Baxedes is a stop on the Oia to Fia bus route. 

The sea laps on the shores of a black-sand beach, with sandstone cliffs towering over it
Learn some of the island’s history on Vlihada Beach © Olga_Gavrilova / Getty Images

7. Vlihada Beach

An ideal choice for groups with varying interests, Vlihada (Vlychada) Beach gets more popular each year. It’s a long stretch of south-facing coarse dark sand intermixed with small rocks. Tavernas and bars abound and you have you pick of loungers to rent for the day. The site is sheltered so swimming is usually easy.

Besides typical watery activities like snorkeling and diving, you can go for hikes along the beach, which pass weird sandstone rock formations pock-marked with myriad holes in sinuous shapes. Or you can learn about the era when Santorini’s main harvest wasn’t tourists but rather tomatoes. An old cannery right on the beach has been transformed into the Tomato Industrial Museum.

How to get there: Road access to Vlihada Beach is easy. You can get there by car or by bus from Fira.

Tanning beds and umbrellas sit empty on a sunny day on a black-sand beach
There are many accommodation options along Perissa Beach © D_Zheleva / Getty Images

8. Perissa Beach

This long, grey-sand beach on the southeast coast changes its name as you head south, starting as Perissa Beach, becoming Perivolos Beach and then Agios Georgios Beach. The sand gets a bit finer as you move south, while the many accommodation choices become more upscale. This long strand is the best option if you want a hotel right on the beach rather than amidst the dynamic vibe of hilltop Fira. It’s also a good beach if you want to party, as Perissa has a beach bar that hosts live music sessions and DJ sets during summer nights.

That said, the choice of beach clubs, tavernas, hotels and apartments here is varied, with something for every taste and budget. A long tree-shaded promenade makes for wonderful strolling along the over 2 miles (3km) of shoreline. 

How to get there: All three beaches have excellent access from parking areas; regular buses pass by from Fira.

This article was first published Sep 28, 2021 and updated Jul 9, 2024.

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